Written by Michael Carter, Hull KR Shirts.
Welcome to My Collection With Steve McNichol. In what is a slight change to usual proceedings I will be interviewing a fellow collector who collects shirts from another Rugby League club. I recently spoke to Steve about his collection and love for Castleford Tigers and the shirts they’ve worn. He was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions and share his collection with you. Enjoy!
MC – Steve, what inspired you to collect shirts?
SM – For me, it’s the memories that the shirts bring back. Each one has a history (good or bad!) to it – a game, a season or a player who comes to mind when you see the shirt. I had most of the designs as a replica, but to have a shirt that was actually used by the team during a big game or a successful season, or was worn by a certain player himself, makes match-worn ones special to me. Because of this, I’ve only collected match-worn shirts for a number of years now, though I still have a good number of replica shirts knocking around.
MC – When did you start collecting shirts and what do you collect?
SM – I can’t put an exact date on it. I started by buying the odd ‘retro’ shirt on eBay because I wasn’t a fan of modern designs. I much preferred the designs from when I was a kid in the early 90s, so would buy these rather than the replicas that the club released every year!
MC – What was your first match-worn/replica shirt in your collection Steve?
SM – I had most of my old replica shirts tucked away in the loft, so these were the first replicas I had. They were mostly from the early 90s – the Hickson sponsored shirts, made by Ellgren.
SM – The first match-worn shirt I had was Rangi Chase’s 2011 away shirt, from the year he won the Man of Steel Award.
MC – How many shirts do you have in your collection, Steve?
SM – I’ve never been one for collecting a large number of shirts. I only tend to buy shirts that were worn by players I admired, or shirts that I remembered watching the team wear in successful seasons. Currently, I have about 20 match-worn shirts. I only have Castleford shirts now, but in the past, I’ve had some match-worn Great Britain and England shirts as well as some from Australian teams. A couple of years ago I decided that all my favourite ones were Cas shirts, so I sold the others!
MC – What is your favourite Cas shirt in your collection?
SM – I’m going to cheat and have two because they are favourites for different reasons. The first is a match-worn shirt from Cas’ 1986 Challenge Cup final win (sorry Hull KR fans!). It’s the iconic Castleford colours and design and was worn in the club’s most famous victory. Unfortunately, I was too young to remember the game clearly (though I do have a photo with the cup the day after the final!).
SM – The second is a match-worn shirt from Cas’ 1994 Regal Trophy Final win. I was old to enough to remember this game, and I’ve not seen a better Castleford performance since or experienced an atmosphere like that day. It was an incredible feeling to annihilate a Wigan team who was considered to be unbeatable in knock-out competitions.
MC – What is the oldest shirt in your collection?
SM – I have a white shirt that is the ‘away version’ of the cup-winning one. We wore this design (usually in cup games) from the start of the 1985 season and it’s definitely one of the first ones to be used because the later shirts had a different label.
MC – What is your favourite shirt, of all time? (not necessarily in your collection).
SM – I’d struggle to beat the two above, but I like the design of the Castleford cup final shirt from 1969/70.
MC – Out of the mentioned shirts you mentioned, which is your overall favourite?
SM – The 1994 Regal Trophy Final shirt, purely because I can remember so much more about that game and what it meant to the club.
MC – We need to have some Hull KR content in here, so what’s your favourite Hull KR shirt?
SM – It’s easy to say the adidas shirts of the 1980s; they are classic designs. However, more recently, I liked the PNG special edition shirt in 2015.
MC – Would you buy a shirt you didn’t like the look of? If yes how do you feel about it?
SM – I’m not a fan of Cas’ orange colour-scheme or recent designs, but I do have Luke Gale’s 2017 home shirt. I already had shirts worn by all Cas’ Man of Steel winners in the year they won the award (Adrian Vowles in 1999, Rangi Chase in 2011 and Daryl Clark in 2014), so I had to have one of Luke Gale’s when he won it in 2017! It means I have a full set of Man of Steel match-worn shirts, but I still wish it was amber!
MC – Over the years collecting shirts, what would you say was your best buy?
SM – There’s a Hull KR link to this one actually. I saw a Castleford shirt from the 2005 Northern Rail Cup final on eBay that looked player-cut, but the club sold loads of replicas that looked exactly the same and there was no photograph of the back of the shirt on eBay. I contacted the seller but got no response. Thinking that it might be a spare playing shirt, I paid £10 for it. When it arrived, it turned out to be Adam Watene’s shirt from the game (a loss to Hull KR!).
MC – What is your opinion on signed shirts Steve?
SM – I think this comes down to personal opinion. Mine is that I prefer my shirts to be as original as possible, so I don’t get them signed at all. If a shirt is already signed by the player who wore it, then I don’t mind and it won’t stop me from buying it. However, team-signed is something I tend to avoid.
MC – Lastly to finish up Steve, I would like to give you the opportunity to shout out for a shirt (or shirts) which have eluded you over the years?
SM – A match-worn 1991-1993 away shirt. It’s actually very amber so many people think it was a home shirt, but I don’t think it was ever worn by the first team at Wheldon Road! There are very few about as the club only had one playing set of these – they would have had a new set for the 1992/93 season but these were destroyed in a fire at the Ellgren factory, so we had to make do with the ones we already had!
Steve, its been a pleasure to do this. Thank you for taking the time to go through this interview with me about all the shirts in your collection. It has been ace talking shirts with you and I hope you enjoyed it too! It was great to see a fellow collectors collection and I’m pleased to say we safely left the rivalry on the pitch and not in the Kitroom!
You can follow the progress of Steve’s collection on Twitter by clicking here.
Fancy having your own interview with Me about your shirt collection? Get in touch and we will make it happen.